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No raise is really a pay cut

Q: My company just announced that there will be no raises this year. I started this job a year ago at what was supposed to be a probationary salary with a substantial raise after a year of good performance. How can I go about talking to my boss about making an exception to the “no raise” rule in my case?

A: In my experience, there are situations where an organization will make an exception to the “no raises this year” rule; it is when an individual’s contributions are so outstanding that the organization wants to avoid the risk of the individual leaving for another opportunity. At the same time, I do not recall one instance of the policy being adjusted because someone initiated the conversation and asked for the raise. Should you do so, if the company is not inclined to offer a raise, you run the risk of shining a negative light on yourself.
    Consequently, you are left with two options: 1) secure a better-compensated opportunity elsewhere – and continue to do your ultimate best at your current employer until you do so; 2) contribute through your present job at such a unique level that the value of your contributions is recognized and rewarded.
    I would begin the latter by reviewing the goals and objectives for the organization, for your department and for yourself. Once you feel you have a thorough understanding of these factors, ask to meet with your manager to clarify any priorities upon which he or she is focusing. Once you have that clarity, end your meeting with a statement of how you plan to invest extra effort to help achieve the organization’s goals.
    Next, periodically meet with your manager to review your progress. Without overstating your case, you need to ensure that your efforts remain on target and are recognized.
   Once you have done so –  repeatedly – across multiple evaluation factors, the choice as to whether or not you receive a raise is in the organization’s hands. If you receive a raise, you have achieved your objective. If you have not received a raise, then you have established several key performance factors that can be incorporated into both your resume and future employment interview discussions.
   In either case, by approaching your situation in this proactive manner, you are demonstrating you are worth more money, not just asking for more money.
    You asked, “How do I go about talking to my boss…?” Perhaps the answer is also found in James 2:14, faith and works. Although James was writing about salvation, it is not too far a stretch to see the applicability of his wisdom to your situation. Have faith and work hard.

Nick Synko can be reached at

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